(News Release) – State Rep. Anthony M. “Tony” DeLuca (D-Penn Hills), the senior member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, died on Sunday, Oct. 9 at home after a brief battle with lymphoma, a disease he twice previously beat. He was 85.
For 39 years DeLuca represented the 32nd Legislative District, comprised of Penn Hills, Verona, the majority of Plum Borough and now, in the most recent legislative redistricting, the Borough of Oakmont.
For more than 20 years DeLuca served as Democratic Chairman of the House Insurance Committee. In Harrisburg, his passion was to serve as a patient advocate with insurance companies, to ensure medical professional accountability, and to guarantee patient safety in all areas of medicine including pharmacies. Following his first lymphoma diagnosis and his late wife of 66 years Connie’s subsequent breast cancer diagnosis, DeLuca became an outspoken advocate for cancer awareness and early detection, while tirelessly supporting and introducing legislation to increase funding for local cancer research as well as improved treatment procedures and care after diagnosis.
DeLuca always focused on improving the lives of others, which led him to prime sponsor over 100 pieces of legislation in the 2021-2022 session alone. In 2018, DeLuca championed the Life Insurance Database Act (Act 48) to aid Pennsylvanians in finding out if they were beneficiaries of a life insurance policy following a loved one’s death, connecting families with $5 million annually.
To further secure consumer insurance products, in 2019 DeLuca introduced Act 98 of 2019 to give stronger protections to Fraternal benefit society life insurance products. DeLuca also played an integral role in establishing the Pennsylvania Health Insurance Market Place, and in Act 140 of 2020, that requires pharmacy technicians to register with the Department of State, pass a criminal background check, pass training and have a high school diploma.
DeLuca believed serving as a state representative was a full-time commitment both in the Capitol and in the district and did not have outside employment. While others his age retired and enjoyed their golden years, DeLuca remained deeply committed to his legislative responsibilities – serving his constituents, particularly seniors and families, and being a staunch supporter and defender of labor unions and firefighters. Until just a few days before his death, he remotely participated in House floor sessions and voted on legislation.
In addition to the House Insurance Committee, he was a member of the Democratic Policy Committee, and several other caucuses including Autism, Cancer, Firefighters and Emergency Services (Chairman Emeritus), Mental Health (Co-Chair), Sportsmen, and Steel.
DeLuca said he learned the importance of treating people fairly and compassionately from his father, the son of Italian immigrants, who was a butcher and owner of a meat market in Pittsburgh’s East End’s “Little Italy” area known as Larimer Avenue. DeLuca was proud of his Italian heritage and was one of the original co-founders and, eventual long-time chairman, of the PA Legislative American-Italian Caucus, created to combat social injustice and discrimination against Italian Americans.
Throughout his tenure DeLuca served as a mentor to many federal, state, and local government leaders. He was respected in the region and commended for the significant grant funding he secured over nearly 40 years for local school districts, local governments, and businesses in his district.
Among his many honors were being named to the Westinghouse High School Hall of Fame, being selected as a local newspaper’s “Best Public Official in the Eastern Suburbs” for four consecutive years, Allegheny County Library Association Elected State Official Award, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society PA Leadership Award, and numerous appreciation awards from local youth sports programs.
A resident of Penn Hills for over 60 years, he got his start in politics serving on the Penn Hills Government Study Commission that helped draft the municipality’s Home Rule Charter, then five years as a Penn Hills Councilman, followed by two years as Penn Hills Deputy Mayor before running for his legislative seat and defeating the Republican incumbent.
DeLuca graduated from Westinghouse High School and the Community College of Allegheny County. He had four children, nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. In addition to his late wife, he was preceded in death by his brother Larry and his parents.
DeLuca’s office will be closed the week of Oct. 11- 15 and will re-open for constituents on Oct. 17.